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Contemporary challenges confronting church in the 21st century – Part 1

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Preamble
The contemporary world is peculiar and complex, compared with previous eras in the world.

Asaju


From the Christian standpoint, it is described in biblical terms as the ‘End Time,’ when prophetically, evil and calamities will intensify in occurrence and when the Church will experience untold hardships and persecutions.

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Our discourse shall highlight a few problems currently confronting the Church and the world, with prayerful hope that the ministry of the Church will tackle these challenges for the good of Christians and humanity at large.

The Challenges
The survival of Christianity and the Church from coordinated assault by enemies of the Cross:
• Islam, secularism, communism, pagan heathenism, and the occult. The alarm for our generation is to learn from history. Christianity was lost in North Africa, Asia Minor, and Western Europe because of the Church’s failure to rise to threats against her existence. The same trend, factors, and methods are being employed today to destroy the church.

• Political Disempowerment of the Church: Whereas the Church and Christians were instrumental to the building of African nations and provided political leadership from post-colonial times to the First Republic, the tide has turned today.

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Muslims from Northern Nigeria have taken over and dominated the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. They have also taken over the educational, security, military, para-military, police, customs, immigration, civil service, finance, internal affairs, and economic sectors as well.

Islam does not separate politics from religion. Hence, the dominance of Muslims is an opportunity for tying to Islamising the rest of the country to the disadvantage of Christians. African nationalists used the church’s platform to advance decolonisation, Ethiopianism, and independence.

Christian leaders, upon gaining independence for their respective nations, went ahead to lead the nascent countries. Examples are as follows: Nkrumah (Ghana); Kaunda Zambia (Zambia); Nnamdi Azikiwe and Awolowo (Nigeria); Julius Nyerere (Tanzania); Milton Obote (Uganda); Patrice Lumumba (Congo); Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya) and Leopold Sedar Senghor (Senegal), among others. The reverse is the case today. Even in the United Kingdom, Mayors of major cities are now Muslim immigrants.

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• Proliferation and disunity in the Church: The prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ is that the Church will be one (John 17:21). Many church denominations have sprung up in many urban Nigeria in a manner that presents the church as a commercial venture, rather than mission agencies for evangelism. Yet, the many churches do not translate to the conversion of many sinners, change of human behaviour, reduction in corruption, the crime of insecurity. Christianity without commensurate growth is inimical to the witness of the Church.

• Materialism and affluent lifestyles of Church Ministers: This is a scandal already. Many people in the church are ravaged by poverty, unemployment, and ill-health, whereas the church’s resources are used to fund affluent and flamboyant lifestyles of church leaders in virtually every denomination. It is more pronounced in Pentecostal churches, where mega-church leaders own airplanes, helicopters, most expensive luxury cars, huge bank accounts, and many mansions in different countries of the world. Some are building bigger auditoria costing billions of naira, at a time when insecurity and health hazard suggests the opposite. Yet, millions of people are poor, unemployed, live in refugee camps, fill hospitals and the Church does not attend to their needs. We should build the people who are the church and not too much concentration on physical structure. The abuse of prosperity theology accounts for this perverted view of Christian blessing. It is unjustifiable for church leaders to depart from the modest and humble lifestyle of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles by diverting church monies from its primary purposes of funding evangelism, missions, and providing care for ministers, widows, orphans, etc.

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It is an aberration for pastors to be listed in the Forbes Book of Millionaires as the richest pastors in the world. We in the Anglican Church are copying this lifestyle of concentrating on the comfort of the leaders, rather than the welfare of the people, the laity who really are the church, we ministers were called and employed to feed.

(Outline of Lecture delivered by Rt. Rev. Prof. Dapo F. Asaju (Bishop Theologian), at the yearly Conference of Chancellors and Registrars of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), at Basilica of Grace, Gudu, Abuja on August 4, 2021)

TO BE CONTINUED

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